A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning:
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT
1. JOHN HEVESY ISN’T GETTING NEAR ENOUGH CREDIT: Kyle Trask is having a Heisman-like season with six consecutive games of four or more touchdown passes while leading the Gators to a #6 national ranking and an almost certain SEC East title. One reason Kyle is having such a fabulous year is the fact he spends most of his time upright and very little time doing his feets don’t fail me now impersonation. Good quarterbacks who can put a football in places where only their receivers have a chance to catch it only do that when they have adequate time to throw and John Hevesy’s trench troops are giving Trask plenty of time to survey the field for an open receiver. All the proof you need is the fact Trask has hit 12 different receivers this season. The Gators have given up just six sacks all season, second only to Texas A&M in the SEC. A year ago, the Gators allowed 25, which wasn’t all that bad considering UF returned only one starter from 2018 and the other four combined for fewer than 20. This year, the improvement is substantial thanks to a starting five of center Brett Heggie, guards Richard Gouraige and Stewart Reese and tackles Stone Forsythe and Jean Delance. In addition to the pass protection, the Gators average 150.8 yards per game on the ground and 4.5 per carry, both numbers improvement over last year. Those numbers would be higher if more emphasis was placed on the running game, but Dan Mullen knows the golden goose of this offense is Trask’s arm. But, to prove a point, ask yourself how often the Gators fail to convert on third-and-two when they run the ball? Not very often. In its preseason magazine, Lindy’s ranked Florida’s O-line 8th in the SEC. Wrong. It’s time for credit to be given where credit is due. John Hevesy is getting the job done with the O-line.
2. MULLEN ON TEACHING QUARTERBACKS: “The first thing we always teach all the quarterbacks is you better understand protection. That’s self-preservation right there. You better know every protection, how we are going to protect you, where are your hots, where are your sights, how to check protections, are going to be. And then you are getting into and understanding how to read every type of defense. What are defensive indicators that are out there. And then how do you want to attack every defense. A lot of people understand – I’ll give you this one, on what to do – a lot of people just coach guys what to do. Well, that’s not going to develop a quarterback. That may get them to a limited extent. If you’re just coaching what to do and then you kind of coach them a little bit on how to do it, but it’s the why we do it is really how you develop a quarterback. They need to understand exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing and if when they do that, then they have a grasp of how the offense is supposed to work and what we’re trying to accomplish within the play. And then you set up your practice schedule and installation of everything you do around quarterback development… Within each game plan, within the big picture of the offense with understanding of how to attack defenses, and then how to use a specific game plan to attack defenses, then we set up practice to maximize their development.”
3. IF I’M SOUTH CAROLINA I’M HIRING: Billy Napier of Louisiana-Lafayette and it should be a no-brainer. Sure, Hugh Freeze is the coach all the pundits say is the right guy for South Carolina, but he is in no hurry to leave Liberty and seems intent to put another year of distance between himself and the problems he experienced at Ole Miss. Napier is the son of a high school coach who played QB at Furman, worked as a GA at Clemson, then as an assistant there under both Tommy Bowden and Dabo Swinney. He worked as an analyst for Nick Saban and then spent 2013-16 as Saban’s wide receivers coach. At Louisiana-Lafayette he’s 25-11 as a head coach, has the Rajin Cajuns (7-1) ranked 24th in the AP poll and owns a win over 17th-ranked Iowa State of the Big 12. He runs a balanced offense (201 rushing, 235 passing). Best of all, he’s 41 years old and he’s content being the first Billy Napier and not the next Nick Saban. Plus he works cheap ($875,000) which will come in handy considering Muschamp’s buyout and a South Carolina athletic department that is going to lose $50 million or more. Freeze will cost at least $5 million and will require a long-term contract complete with a buyout.
4. IF I’M WILL MUSCHAMP NEXT YEAR I WILL BE: Let’s start with the obvious. Money is not going to be a consideration. South Carolina owes him a bundle. Some reports have it at $13.2 million but The Athletic pegs the number at $15 million. So if you add up what he’s been paid the last five years at South Carolina, which is in the ball yard of $18 million and add that $15 million you have a tidy sum with which to squeeze by. Since money is not going to be a consideration, why not spend a year or two at St. Nick’s Rehab Clinic for Wayward Coaches? It got Mike Locksley a HBC job at Maryland, which is pretty amazing when you consider he was 2-26 at New Mexico with sexual harassment charges and 1-5 as an interim HBC at Maryland in 2015. There are worse gigs than Alabama as an assistant particularly since Saban assistants eventually get HBC jobs. Nick can’t be happy with DC Pete Golding. Will knows what Nick likes and wants, having been his DC at LSU, so it would be a rather good fit. If Will Muschamp wants to be a head coach again, working for Nick is the way to go.
5. IF I’M MICHIGAN I’M HIRING: Jim Harbaugh is a goner. Paul Finebaum reported two weeks ago that Michigan and Harbaugh have reached an agreement to part ways as buddies, which is a nice way of saying Michigan asked Harbaugh if he would be interested in leaving rather than a messy firing and Harbaugh said absolutely. So he’s outta there and none too soon if you happened to see clips of the Wolverines’ 48-11 poleaxing at the hands of Michigan. The guy they need is Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. All the proof you need is Mac Jones, the former Wing-T QB from Jacksonville Bolles who looks like the 5-star recruit he wasn’t. He was a 3-star and the only reason he got that high was because the folks who do rankings figured Nick Saban might know a little bit about football players. When Tua went down last year, Mac Jones came in and threw 14 TDPs. This year he’s showing everyone week in and week out that nobody throws a better deep ball. Sark doesn’t have midwestern ties but he does know how to coach up a QB and one of the chief reasons Michigan hasn’t challenged the mighty Buckeyes for the Big Ten (Plus Four) title is the quarterback position. Sark makes sense. That’s exactly why Michigan won’t hire him.
5. IF I’M TENNESSEE I’M FIRING: Phil Fulmer is the guy who staged a coup to get rid of athletic director John Currie (cost the school a $2.5 million buyout) and then hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as the new HBC even though Pruitt had never been a head coach at any level. Not only that, Fulmer gave Pruitt a 6-year contract worth $3.8 million per year. Earlier this season, Fulmer gave Pruitt a raise to $4.2 million starting next year along with a contract extension that will take him through the 2025 season. Tennessee is 2-4 this season and in all likelihood will finish 3-7 (Vanderbilt win, losses to Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M). Vol fans want Pruitt gone. The one who should first be fired is Phattus Maximus.
6. IT WILL TAKE YEARS FOR FSU TO RECOVER: On paper, Mike Norvel looked like just the right guy in Tallahassee after Florida State decided to Free Willie in 2019, but here we are eight games into the 2020 season and the only way the Seminoles finish 3-8 is if Duke does a good impersonation of a dead skunk in the middle of the road in the final game. There are opt out problems but they are actually the least of Norvel’s concerns. The bigger issues are in a locker room that is absolute poison. Figure the transfer portal will be filled with Seminoles in the near future when Novel cleans house. Norvel has to rebuild the football culture and that won’t be easy when you consider the athletic department is just a few dollars shy of dead broke and that was before the virus put the kibosh on the finances. Go 152 miles southeast and the University of Florida is on sound financial footing so while UF will take a big financial hit due to the virus, there is SEC Network money that will ease the pain considerably. No such luck in Tallahassee. When everything gets back to normal, Florida will be raking in about $15-20 million a year MORE than FSU and will have that brand new football facility with which to impress recruits. There is no quick fix at FSU. It’s going to take years to recover from this mess.
7. WHEN IN DOUBT, SHIFT THE SCHEDULE: Greg Sankey has already done that once in the SEC and it’s likely he’s going to have to do it again now that Ole Miss at Texas A&M has been postponed. The 5th-ranked Aggies (5-1) are already scheduled to play Tennessee in a makeup game on December 12. If the Aggies aren’t playing in the SEC Championship Game on December 19, it’s probable they will play Ole Miss on that date. Expect some more shifting in the SEC so that both Alabama and Florida can play LSU and get a 10-game schedule in prior to the championship game. Meanwhile over in the ACC, they’re shifting schedules for Miami, which will miss the next two weeks due to contact tracing. Miami will play Wake Forest on December 5, North Carolina on December 12 and as long as the Hurricanes aren’t playing in the ACC Championship Game, they’ll play Georgia Tech on December 19. Take note Big Ten (Plus Four) and Pac-12. This is how conferences with real leaders with foresight handle issues on the fly.
8. YOU KNOW IT’S A BAD DAY WHEN … : Tiger Woods hits three balls into Rae’s Creek at Augusta National’s 12th hole, then winds up with a 10. I am familiar with shooting a 10 although not at Augusta National. I’m not familiar with Tiger shooting a 10 on any hole on any course in the world. He shot a 3 on that same hole in 2019 and that was the start of his comeback to win his fifth green jacket … The New Orleans Saints are leading the NFC South Division and may have to go a minimum of 2-3 weeks with Jameis Winston as their QB. Drew Brees has multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung … You’re the Houston Rockets and you offer to make your star player James Harden the first $50 million a year player in NBA history and he turns you down … The Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot comes out and you see the names Shane Victorino, Dan Haren, Barry Zito and Torii Hunter on it. Isn’t the Hall of Fame supposed to be a special place for GREAT players and not pretty good ones?